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Jesus Wasn't Angry; That was Righteous Indignation

jesus, anger, righteous indignation, urantia book, Lesli White, cleansing the temple, wedding at cana, beatitudes

When I saw this title: 6 Ways Jesus Dealt With Anger by Lesli White, I was reminded of times in Jesus' life when he displayed anger, or more appropriately, indignation. He was human, after all, and human beings do have emotions; Jesus was no exception to this, but it's how he expressed his emotions and for what reasons that is important. We'll blog about this below.

But first, I want to say that this is a really nice article for anyone to read, and helps us all to learn from the Master's example about this potentially destructive emotion; there is a time and place for righteous indignation but we have to be wise about it. Here are the 6 ways Jesus dealt with anger from the article- but you have to read the article for the author's inspiring thoughts. I recommend it:

He Took Quick and Decisive Action

He Responded in a Godly Way

He Turned it Into a Teachable Moment

He Prayed and Thought About It

He Didn't Seek Revenge

He Addressed Anger in Love

Click to read more


Was Jesus really angry at times?

In The Urantia Book stories of Jesus, we never read that he got angry - he never displayed hostility to anyone. He did, however, display indignation - even from an early age. We have to remember that Jesus was a normal human being in every way; the fact that he was also the incarnated Son of God did not change that fact - it just meant that he had to wrestle with his emotions in a way that was consistent with his high mission of revealing the heavenly Father to the world.

100:7.14 His courage was equaled only by his patience. When pressed to act prematurely, he would only reply, "My hour has not yet come." He was never in a hurry; his composure was sublime. But he was often indignant at evil, intolerant of sin. He was often mightily moved to resist that which was inimical to the welfare of his children on earth. But his indignation against sin never led to anger at the sinner.

140:8.21 He was a positive teacher of true virtue. He studiously avoided the negative method of imparting instruction; he refused to advertise evil. He was not even a moral reformer. His few denunciations were largely directed against pride, cruelty, oppression, and hypocrisy.

There's a subtle difference between anger and indignation. As the author of this article points out: "Jesus did not exhibit man's anger, but the righteous indignation of God." Anger is man's problem to subdue, but there is a time for indignation, and it's good to know the difference. Here are some dictionatry definitions:

ANGER: a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility: synonyms: rage · vexation · displeasure · crossness

INDIGNATION: feeling or showing anger or annoyance at what is perceived as unfair treatment: synonyms: resentment · umbrage · affront · disgruntlement · displeasure · annoyance · exasperation

Unlike raw anger, indignation arises from the sense of unfairness; it is anger's better half, perhaps.

The indignant boy Jesus

As a human being, Jesus inherited characteristics from his parents, as we all do from our own parents; the tendency to righteous indignation was one of those characteristics. His inborn human genetic inheritance insured that his sense of of fairness and right and wrong was sensitive:

122:5.3 Jesus derived much of his unusual gentleness and marvelous sympathetic understanding of human nature from his father; he inherited his gift as a great teacher and his tremendous capacity for righteous indignation from his mother. In emotional reactions to his adult-life environment, Jesus was at one time like his father, meditative and worshipful, sometimes characterized by apparent sadness; but more often he drove forward in the manner of his mother's optimistic and determined disposition. All in all, Mary's temperament tended to dominate the career of the divine Son as he grew up and swung into the momentous strides of his adult life. In some particulars Jesus was a blending of his parents' traits; in other respects he exhibited the traits of one in contrast with those of the other.

Accordingly, as Jesus grew up he experienced some of those feelings, as in these vignettes from his early life. He would have been 12 years old here. His "youthful indignation" seems to be entirely appropriate, though...see if you agree:

125:0.4 In company with his parents Jesus passed through the temple precincts on his way to join that group of new sons of the law who were about to be consecrated as citizens of Israel. He was a little disappointed by the general demeanor of the temple throngs, but the first great shock of the day came when his mother took leave of them on her way to the women's gallery. It had never occurred to Jesus that his mother was not to accompany him to the consecration ceremonies, and he was thoroughly indignant that she was made to suffer from such unjust discrimination. While he strongly resented this, aside from a few remarks of protest to his father, he said nothing. But he thought, and thought deeply, as his questions to the scribes and teachers a week later disclosed.

125:1.2 But most of all was his sense of propriety outraged by the sight of the frivolous courtesans parading about within this precinct of the temple, just such painted women as he had so recently seen when on a visit to Sepphoris. This profanation of the temple fully aroused all his youthful indignation, and he did not hesitate to express himself freely to Joseph.

Later examples of Jesus' indignation

Later in life, soon before his public ministry began, and when Jesus and his first six apostles were attending the wedding at Cana, this happened; it is easy to iamgine a reaction such as this from Jesus. He didn't get mad - just gently indignant. Probably just the "expression of his face" was sufficient to stop the questions:

137:4.4 Early in the afternoon Mary summoned James, and together they made bold to approach Jesus to inquire if he would admit them to his confidence to the extent of informing them at what hour and at what point in connection with the wedding ceremonies he had planned to manifest himself as the "supernatural one." No sooner had they spoken of these matters to Jesus than they saw they had aroused his characteristic indignation. He said only: "If you love me, then be willing to tarry with me while I wait upon the will of my Father who is in heaven." But the eloquence of his rebuke lay in the expression of his face.

And here's a teachable moment where Jesus used his indignation to instruct:

165:4.1 As the apostles baptized believers, the Master talked with those who tarried. And a certain young man said to him: "Master, my father died leaving much property to me and my brother, but my brother refuses to give me that which is my own. Will you, then, bid my brother divide this inheritance with me?" Jesus was mildly indignant that this material-minded youth should bring up for discussion such a question of business; but he proceeded to use the occasion for the impartation of further instruction. Said Jesus: "Man, who made me a divider over you? Where did you get the idea that I give attention to the material affairs of this world?" And then, turning to all who were about him, he said: "Take heed and keep yourselves free from covetousness; a man's life consists not in the abundance of the things which he may possess. Happiness comes not from the power of wealth, and joy springs not from riches. Wealth, in itself, is not a curse, but the love of riches many times leads to such devotion to the things of this world that the soul becomes blinded to the beautiful attractions of the spiritual realities of the kingdom of God on earth and to the joys of eternal life in heaven.

The famous cleansing of the temple - was it really anger? Decide for yourself:

173:1.6 As Jesus was about to begin his address, two things happened to arrest his attention. At the money table of a near-by exchanger a violent and heated argument had arisen over the alleged overcharging of a Jew from Alexandria, while at the same moment the air was rent by the bellowing of a drove of some one hundred bullocks which was being driven from one section of the animal pens to another. As Jesus paused, silently but thoughtfully contemplating this scene of commerce and confusion, close by he beheld a simple-minded Galilean, a man he had once talked with in Iron, being ridiculed and jostled about by supercilious and would-be superior Judeans; and all of this combined to produce one of those strange and periodic uprisings of indignant emotion in the soul of Jesus.

173:1.7 To the amazement of his apostles, standing near at hand, who refrained from participation in what so soon followed, Jesus stepped down from the teaching platform and, going over to the lad who was driving the cattle through the court, took from him his whip of cords and swiftly drove the animals from the temple. But that was not all; he strode majestically before the wondering gaze of the thousands assembled in the temple court to the farthest cattle pen and proceeded to open the gates of every stall and to drive out the imprisoned animals. By this time the assembled pilgrims were electrified, and with uproarious shouting they moved toward the bazaars and began to overturn the tables of the money-changers. In less than five minutes all commerce had been swept from the temple. By the time the near-by Roman guards had appeared on the scene, all was quiet, and the crowds had become orderly; Jesus, returning to the speaker's stand, spoke to the multitude: "You have this day witnessed that which is written in the Scriptures: `My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations, but you have made it a den of robbers.'"

173:1.8 But before he could utter other words, the great assembly broke out in hosannas of praise, and presently a throng of youths stepped out from the crowd to sing grateful hymns of appreciation that the profane and profiteering merchandisers had been ejected from the sacred temple. By this time certain of the priests had arrived on the scene, and one of them said to Jesus, "Do you not hear what the children of the Levites say?" And the Master replied, "Have you never read, `Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings has praise been perfected'?" And all the rest of that day while Jesus taught, guards set by the people stood watch at every archway, and they would not permit anyone to carry even an empty vessel across the temple courts.

If you're like me, you may see the actions of a man who saw the injustice of what was happening and who took matters into his own hands to right the situation. He never did get angry - he just swiftly and effectively, and "majestically" did what had to be done, much to the delight of the temple-going crowds.

Urantia Book teachings about anger inspired by the beautiful beatitudes

The ordination sermon given to the apostles by Jesus provides these following points of interest that inspired the authors of these papers to lend instruction to all of us about the value of sympathy and peace in our hearts against destructive emotions of anger:

140:5.16 1. "Happy are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted." So-called common sense or the best of logic would never suggest that happiness could be derived from mourning. But Jesus did not refer to outward or ostentatious mourning. He alluded to an emotional attitude of tenderheartedness. It is a great error to teach boys and young men that it is unmanly to show tenderness or otherwise to give evidence of emotional feeling or physical suffering. Sympathy is a worthy attribute of the male as well as the female. It is not necessary to be calloused in order to be manly. This is the wrong way to create courageous men. The world's great men have not been afraid to mourn. Being sensitive and responsive to human need creates genuine and lasting happiness, while such kindly attitudes safeguard the soul from the destructive influences of anger, hate, and suspicion.

140:5.18 3. "Happy are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God." Jesus' hearers were longing for military deliverance, not for peacemakers. But Jesus' peace is not of the pacific and negative kind. In the face of trials and persecutions he said, "My peace I leave with you." "Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." This is the peace that prevents ruinous conflicts. Personal peace integrates personality. Social peace prevents fear, greed, and anger. Political peace prevents race antagonisms, national suspicions, and war. Peacemaking is the cure of distrust and suspicion.

What can we learn from Jesus about the connection of anger with pride and selfishness?

In contrast to the world's familiar advice that says: "don't get mad - get even," Jesus' approach to being offended may be one of the hardest to practice...but don't we see how different our world might be if we all practiced this instruction?

141:3.8 Jesus portrayed conquest by sacrifice, the sacrifice of pride and selfishness. By showing mercy, he meant to portray spiritual deliverance from all grudges, grievances, anger, and the lust for selfish power and revenge. And when he said, "Resist not evil," he later explained that he did not mean to condone sin or to counsel fraternity with iniquity. He intended the more to teach forgiveness, to "resist not evil treatment of one's personality, evil injury to one's feelings of personal dignity."

What the Master taught his apostles and followers about anger

Finally, here's what Jesus actually taught his followers about anger and how to deal with it...advice that resounds still today::

140:6.4 Then said Simon Peter: "Master, if you have a new commandment, we would hear it. Reveal the new way to us." Jesus answered Peter: "You have heard it said by those who teach the law: `You shall not kill; that whosoever kills shall be subject to judgment.' But I look beyond the act to uncover the motive. I declare to you that every one who is angry with his brother is in danger of condemnation. He who nurses hatred in his heart and plans vengeance in his mind stands in danger of judgment. You must judge your fellows by their deeds; the Father in heaven judges by the intent.

149:4.1 Jesus did very little public work on this preaching tour, but he conducted many evening classes with the believers in most of the cities and villages where he chanced to sojourn with James and John. At one of these evening sessions one of the younger evangelists asked Jesus a question about anger, and the Master, among other things, said in reply:

149:4.2 "Anger is a material manifestation which represents, in a general way, the measure of the failure of the spiritual nature to gain control of the combined intellectual and physical natures. Anger indicates your lack of tolerant brotherly love plus your lack of self-respect and self-control. Anger depletes the health, debases the mind, and handicaps the spirit teacher of man's soul. Have you not read in the Scriptures that `wrath kills the foolish man,' and that man `tears himself in his anger'? That `he who is slow of wrath is of great understanding,' while `he who is hasty of temper exalts folly'? You all know that `a soft answer turns away wrath,' and how `grievous words stir up anger.' `Discretion defers anger,' while `he who has no control over his own self is like a defenseless city without walls.' `Wrath is cruel and anger is outrageous.' `Angry men stir up strife, while the furious multiply their transgressions.' `Be not hasty in spirit, for anger rests in the bosom of fools.'" Before Jesus ceased speaking, he said further: "Let your hearts be so dominated by love that your spirit guide will have little trouble in delivering you from the tendency to give vent to those outbursts of animal anger which are inconsistent with the status of divine sonship."

Again, I recommend the article above to everyone. The author has made some good points that are not in this blog, and they deserve to be appreciated!

In the end, Jesus showed himself to be subject to normal human emotion. But it is what he did with those emotions, how he directed them into channels of good, and how he taught his followers, that should help all of us to become better human beings - people who can actually avoid those destructive feelings of anger, but also people who understand that there is a time and place for the "righteous anger of God."

AND... the wisdom to know the difference!

No wonder that the revelators tell us that the most valuable knowledge we can have is to know the religious life of Jesus and how he lived it.

Here's where to start to discover that amazing life!

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